Meet Neena Gaynor who started Words Like Honey, a Kentucky based beekeeping venture with an altruistic twist! Words Like Honey donates all of its honey profits to a local food shelter. How sweet is that? Read on to find out more.
Tell us about yourself. Where do you live? How did you get into beekeeping?
My husband and I met in college and started dating soon after. He was a professional baseball player in the Detroit Tigers system and I was a surgical nurse before we married. I quit my job to follow his dreams and 7 years, 29 legitimate moves, and 2 babies later, we decided we both missed our Old Kentucky Home. During those years, my parents had started keeping bees on their farm and their passion was contagious. As soon as we planted some roots in Owensboro, Wade and I began planning a way to start beekeeping and also give back to the communities that supported us during our time in baseball.
What kind of program(s) are you running ?
Words Like Honey started as a blog. It was just an outlet for this stay-at-home-mom to have a (often one-sided) conversation with the world. Proverbs 16:24 says: “Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” It’s not new information that words have power. We are aware of their ability to either constructively build or belittle individuals instantly, and we far too often chose to use words carelessly…especially on social media. I was on a mission to spread more gracious, pleasant, and kind commentary to my community when I remembered the old adage, “talk is cheap.” That’s when WLH went out and we got our first hive with promises to donate all honey profits to a local food bank. We kept acquiring more hives as finances would allow. With all profits to charity, we were slowing in momentum as supplies and bees aren’t cheap. I started designing a couple different t-shirts and selling those to offset our beekeeping costs so we could continue to adequately provide for more colonies.
How many hives do you manage? How many apiary sites?
We currently have 3 apiary sites with 6 hives. It’s humble in comparison to many, but we are proud of our thriving colonies, and also ready to grow our bee family.
How do you keep track of your hives? Do you take notes?
I do take notes and pictures. I also rely upon what I call my “bee-kit” (with everything beekeepers need and more), and it makes up for most of the forgetful blonde-moments. They’re real—even if my highlights aren’t. 😉
What’s the best part of beekeeping?
Honey, of course! Actually, I’m also a fan of the serenity paradox that comes from barging into the home of thousands of flying bees and finding peace when tending to some of God’s most amazing little creatures.
What’s the worst part of beekeeping?
Beginning beekeeping was similar to bringing home our first child. Everything I had learned from my folks, read, or heard in beekeeping classes was quickly forgotten. I was worried about every tiny ant, perceived bee anomaly, or the very unpredictable and even more inconsistent Kentucky weather. But who can add a day to their life (or a bee’s) through worry? I learned to be prepared, seek counsel, and realize that the bees aren’t completely helpless, but rather spectacular little survivors.
Noteworthy: Stings are also terrible.
All new beekeepers make mistakes, can you share one you made when you were a beginner?
The day we went to pick up our first bees, we arrived at the distributor as they were closing. As soon we were ready to head home, we realized we had a truck full of bees, our two sweet babies, and no working brakes. It was a long afternoon that went into an even longer evening, and our first beekeeping experience ended with successful midnight installations a dead truck battery from using the headlights as working light. Little did we realize that we could have just placed the NUCS near where we were going to install them and return the next day (with a more reliable vehicle).
As beginner beekeepers, we’ve appreciated the collective body of beekeepers that truly champions the “newbees”—especially Hilary, her blog, and wealth of knowledge that she has accumulated into her social media outlets that continually pumps out information in a pleasant and charismatic manner.
What accomplishment (so far) are you most proud of?
I’m proud of our small community’s receptiveness to learn and help. I’ve had strangers approach me about being potential hive hosts and even more inquire and then act on how they can assist in making our area more bee-friendly.
Is there anything new you are working on now that you’re excited about?
We are working on new honey labels and shirt designs!
What challenges have you faced?
We live in a very industrious and agricultural community. Pesticides, fall-out, and chemicals are abundant (so are The Sniffles). It’s been an endeavor to educate the mass-producing farmers near our apiaries about alerting us as to when they are spraying. Many hobby beekeepers in our area have been discouraged and given up after losing multiple hives to such. We are currently armed with linens to wet and cover our hives during spray-days, but it’s all a matter of getting a heads-up from the farmers…. But so far, so good!